Art piece in tribute to Belfast runner Eskander
AN artwork depicting a member of the Northern Ireland athletics team - who escaped violence in Ethiopia - has been unveiled on London's Southbank.
The piece by internationally renowned `sink hole' artists, 3D Joe and Max, tells the story of Eskander Turki, an Ethiopian refugee who found healing through running.
In 2010, Eskander took part in a student protest in the Ethiopian state of Oromia, holding a placard that read "Stop killing Ormo people". The military arrived and opened fire. Eskander was arrested and imprisoned for four months. He was beaten, cut and tortured.
Following his release, his mother feared her son would be murdered. She sold her possessions to raise funds to allow him to escape to South Sudan. What followed was a decade of abuse where he was enslaved on a Sudanese building site, imprisoned by Libyan people smugglers, crossing the Mediterranean on a dingy, before facing assault and sleeping rough in Italy.
He later arrived in Monaghan where he spent time in a Direct Provision centre and a doctor suggested that running could be a good way to manage his trauma. Running his first race in Dublin on St Patrick's Day 2017, he soon found himself competing and standing on podiums across Ireland.
Relocating to Belfast, Eskander joined Annadale Striders and is now a member of the Northern Ireland and Ulster athletics team.
Michael McKnight, a coach at Annadale Striders said: "Eskander's achievements are amazing given the challenges he has had to overcome over the past decade. He is a wonderful example of how the human spirit can triumph over the odds and he inspires everyone who has the privilege of knowing him."